If you’re interested in making your photos look like paintings, of course the long-time standard for doing this is Corel Painter, and that’s still the best way to create something that really looks painted. However, it also requires some artistic ability and a high level of skill and has quite a learning curve.
For those who prefer to let the computer do the work, by far the best solution I’ve found is Dynamic Auto Painter from MediaChance. Unfortunately, it’s only available for Windows, which has been a big disappointment to lots of Mac folks.
However, there’s good news: They’ve just come out with a sort of a kind of a version for Mac, called AutoPainter Express, as well as a version of Express for iPhone/iPod. (There’s an iPad version on the way, but it’s not out yet.)
I’m so happy to finally see a Mac version of this program, but unfortunately this one has a long way to go to get to the level of the Windows version. In Windows you have many options for customizing and controlling the result, while the Mac version is limited to four presets. You choose one, and the only other choice you have is to stop it before it’s finished, if you like your painting where it’s at right now and don’t want more work done on it. It’s not a very Mac-like application, either. For example, closing the window closes the program, just like in Windows, and there’s no way to close an image without saving it except by quitting out of the whole thing.
Still, it’s a nice start. Here are examples of what each preset came up with for this photo from a previous entry:
Using the Aquarell preset, described as “Running colors, water droplets, traces and scratches, it’s all there”:
With the Benson preset, described as “a sunny palette with Mediterranean tones”:
With the Cezanne preset, described as “warm reds and yellows with quick brush layers and chalk”:
And finally with the Van Gogh preset, “inspired by the Starry Night painting”:
There’s really quite a lot of detail in the full resolution images afterwards (WordPress won’t accept files that large), and it runs pretty quickly, even on my old C2D iMac.
Are any of these going to deceive people into thinking that you’re a brilliant painter? No, of course not, but they’re handy for created a quick illustrated look. The results vary a lot, depending on the source image, but with fussier, more detailed images you’ll often get better results if you run the photo through something like Topaz Simplify first.
While it’s a little disappointing that this app is so basic compared to the Windows version, hopefully this is just the beginning and it won’t be long before there’s parity between the two.
Available in the Mac App Store for $7.99.